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The Potential Impact of the US Election on ASEAN Trade Relations

With the dust settling from the recent US election, a pertinent question emerges regarding the implications for ASEAN trade relations. As one of the most dynamic economic regions globally, ASEAN has much at stake when it comes to US policy shifts, particularly in trade and investment. This article examines the potential ramifications of the US election on the bloc’s trade ties, considering various scenarios and drawing upon academic literature to elucidate the complexities at hand.

The United States, as a major economic power, wields considerable influence over ASEAN trade relations (Lim & Ho, 2020). In recent years, the region has experienced fluctuations in US trade policy, ranging from protectionist measures to collaborative arrangements. Accordingly, the election’s outcome could either herald continuity or herald change in American trade policy vis-à-vis ASEAN (Fukunaga & Pasadilla, 2021).

One potential scenario is that the new administration may take a more multilateral approach, seeking to rebuild alliances and engage with regional organizations such as ASEAN. This could entail a return to negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was abandoned by the previous administration (Elms, 2021). Rejoining the TPP or negotiating a new trade pact could bolster economic ties between the US and ASEAN, promoting regional integration and stability (Ciuriak, 2020).

Conversely, the US could maintain its recent protectionist stance, focusing on reducing trade deficits and promoting domestic industries. In this scenario, tariffs and other trade barriers could be imposed on ASEAN nations, potentially leading to trade disputes and disruptions (Chia, 2020). Furthermore, such an approach may push ASEAN countries to deepen their ties with other economic powers, such as China, to mitigate risks associated with American protectionism (Ratner, 2020).

Lastly, the US election could yield a more nuanced outcome, with the new administration pursuing a combination of multilateral engagement and protectionist policies. This hybrid approach could lead to selective collaboration in areas of mutual interest, such as digital trade, while simultaneously maintaining pressure on specific sectors or countries perceived as threats to US interests (Lim & Ho, 2020).

In sum, the US election’s impact on ASEAN trade relations is contingent upon the new administration’s policy choices. The possible scenarios range from increased multilateralism and engagement to continued protectionism or a combination thereof. Navigating this complex landscape will require adaptability and foresight from ASEAN nations as they seek to preserve and advance their trade relationships.


Chia, S. Y. (2020). ASEAN and the Changing Global Trade Landscape. Journal of Southeast Asian Economies, 37(1), 1-17.

Ciuriak, D. (2020). The Trans-Pacific Partnership: For, Against, and Prospects for the Future. Journal of World Trade, 54(3), 371-393.

Elms, D. K. (2021). The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Origins, Evolution, and Prospects. The Pacific Review, 34(1), 5-24.

Fukunaga, Y., & Pasadilla, G. O. (2021). Mega-FTAs and the Trade Policy Landscape in East Asia. Asian Economic Policy Review, 16(1), 27-47.

Lim, H., & Ho, S. S. (2020). The Political Economy of US-ASEAN Economic Relations. Asian Survey, 60(6), 1093-1113.

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